Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced USDA’s plans for re-enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for acres expiring in ’07-10. Currently, there are more than 31 million acres of land enrolled in CRP and in ’07-10 nearly 21 million acres are set to expire. Earlier this year, USDA requested public comments on how the department should proceed on re-enrolling these acres and conducted a public forum. The NCC participated in both.
In order to determine who might be able to re-enroll or extend their CRP contract, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use what is referred to as the Environmental Benefits Index or EBI that was in place when the contracts were first written. The EBI is a measuring system that assigns point scores to the contracts and then nationally ranks all CRP land enrollment offers. Several environmental outcomes factor into EBI point scores such as improving wildlife habitat, water quality, and air quality and reducing soil erosion. The EBI scores are based upon a 100 percentile that is divided into five ranking tiers. In the first tier, CRP producers ranking in the top 20% of the EBI can re-enroll their land in new contracts and producers with wetlands in this ranking can receive contract terms of 10-15 years.
CRP producers ranking within the second tier, between the 61-80%, can extend their contracts for 5 years. Farmers ranking within the third tier, 41-60%, can extend their CRP contracts by 4 years. Those ranking in the fourth tier, between 21-40%, can receive 3-year extensions. Those contracts ranking in the fifth tier of the 20% of CRP producers can extend their contracts by 2 years.
In spring ’06, FSA will write to CRP producers with contracts expiring Sept. 30, ’07, to discuss whether those contracts are eligible for re-enrollment or extension. Producers will confirm their contract interests at that point and a compliance check will be necessary. Tot eligible for re-enrollment or extension are 15-year contracts expiring Sept. 30, ’07.
During the next several months, FSA will update the CRP rental rates to better reflect local market rates for cropland on new contract re-enrollments and will review cropland enrollment limits on a county-by-county basis.